Hug Your Children
by Behnosh Najafi | | Posted under
You have probably heard of the horrific school shooting that happened in Connecticut today. If not…read here.
UPDATE: Talking to Children about Shooting by the National Childhood Traumatic Stress Network is the best resource we’ve found for this specific tragedy.
Here’s an e-mail a friend forwarded to me from the Mukilteo School District:
“As we try to comprehend today’s news, it’s important that we help our children feel safe. Here are a few suggestions that you might consider:
- Understand that children respond to these kinds of events in different ways. Some may experience a rush of feelings, and others may have no reaction at all. Some may appear dazed and confused, and others will act silly or giggly. It’s important that we understand that all of these reactions are normal. Try to practice patience and respect for the feelings of others.
- Make yourself available. Your children may need extra attention from you. Make time for them.
- Keep to a normal routine. Children need a sense of stability.
- Maintain your composure; remain calm and reassuring. Children often take their cues on how to react from their parents and other close adults.
- Be a good listener and talk about the tragedy in an age-appropriate manner. Children younger than 7 years old may be too young to understand what has happened. Older children may just need to know that they are safe. Teenagers may want a conversation that is detailed and may want to discuss how events such as this could be prevented.
- Monitor or turn off the television. Endless news programs are likely to increase anxiety. Also, stick to the facts and try not to get overwhelmed with the speculation one might hear on television. Answer your child’s questions factually.
- Help children express their feelings. If they don’t know the words to say, try to help them put their feelings into writing or through art.
- Tell your children that you love them. Now is a good time for plenty of hugs and kisses.”
Here’s a collection of resources for helping children and youth deal with tragedy from the South Central Library of Madison, Wisconsin:
- National Childhood Traumatic Stress Network
- Children’s Grief Education Association
- Educators for Social Responsibility – Understanding World Events, Coping with Violence
- Mr. Rogers Parents’ site: Helping Children with Scary News
- Sesame Street – Tragic Times, Healing Words Specific advice on how to speak to children at different age levels.
Handouts by the National Association of School Psychologists, sent to us by the Principal of Seattle’s Pathfinder K-8:
- Talking to Children about Violence: Tips for parents and teachers. This publication is also available in Spanish, Vietnamese, and Korean.
- Tips for School Administrators for Reinforcing School Safety
- Coping with Crisis: Tips for Educators and Parents
- Coping with Crisis: Helping Children with Special Needs
Resources sent to us from the City of Seattle:
- Tips for Talking to Children and Youth After Traumatic Events A Guide for Parents and Educators by the US Department of Health and Human Services
- How to Talk to Kids about the Tragedy by The Seattle Times
- Coping with Traumatic event by the US Department of Health and Human Services (for children and adults)
And remember that as someone who works with youth or supports people who do, you are working every day to prevent further tragedies, even though today that might not feel like enough.
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